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The Kashubs: Past and Present

Past and Present


Edited By Cezary Obracht-Prondzynski and Tomasz Wicherkiewicz

The Kashubs, a regional autochthonous group inhabiting northern Poland, represent one of the most dynamic ethnic groups in Europe. As a community, they have undergone significant political, social, economic and cultural change over the last hundred years. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Kashubs were citizens of Germany. In the period between the two World Wars they were divided between three political entities: the Republic of Poland, the Free City of Danzig and Germany. During the Second World War, many Kashubs were murdered, and communist Poland subsequently tried to destroy the social ties that bound the community together. The year 1989 finally brought about a democratic breakthrough, at which point the Kashubs became actively engaged in the construction of their regional identity, with the Kashubian language performing a particularly important role.
This volume is the first scholarly monograph on the history, culture and language of the Kashubs to be published in English since 1935. The book systematically explores the most important aspects of Kashubian identity – national, regional, linguistic, cultural and religious – from both historical and contemporary perspectives.


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Jerzy Treder and Cezary Obracht-ProndzyńskiKashubian Literature:The Phenomenon, its History and its Social Dimension 109


Jerzy Treder and Cezary Obracht-Prondzyński Kashubian Literature: The Phenomenon, its History and its Social Dimension Introduction Kashubian literature is a cultural phenomenon which has attracted scholarly interest from its very beginning, or in other words since the commence- ment of a public debate on the so-called ‘Kashubian issue’ (Bukowski 1950; Drzeżdżon 1973; Drzeżdżon 1986; Neureiter 1982; Neureiter 1991; Samp 2000; Treder 2005; Zielonka 2007). Florian Ceynowa ref lected publicly on whether such a literature was to come into being, asking whether Kashubian was able to give birth to literature that went beyond fireside tales and leg- ends, and whether the Kashubs’ tongue would be able to express deep emo- tions and experiences. It was a long time before Kashubian literature became recognised as autonomous and independent, and before its scope extended beyond the stage of popular culture consisting of folkloric stories, simple rhymes and fables. Kashubian literature not only had to develop a circle of recognised writers (in that respect, a breakthrough came with publications by the Young-Kashubs at the beginning of the twentieth century), but also a group of researchers, commentators, critics, interpreters, even chroniclers, who have studied and popularised works created in Kashubian. From its very beginning, Kashubian literature has also had to cope with the problem of public reception. As a ‘minor’ literature (although the term is merely conventional, as all such classifications must be arbitrary – the opposition ‘minor’ versus ‘great’ simply refers to the size of the group speaking the language...

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